Home Life

Last week, The Fellows and I went to see Roger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella at the 5th Avenue Theater. This was her first big musical and I was a little concerned. At first, she was a little luke-warm about the whole thing.

She promptly informed me that she didn’t want to go if she had to miss practice. Always dedicated, she is. Well, I promptly informed her that I had purchased the tickets and we were going, but that we could compromise and go to the first half of practice and leave straight for the show.

Besides the gymnastics factor, we had several more stacked against us. First, she is not a princess kind of girl and Cinderella is her least favorite of the princesses. Also, she had seen a children’s performance of another play and had enjoyed it but wasn’t really all that impressed. I don’t think she really had any concept of what a major theater production was all about.

As the day arrived, she seemed to be a little more enthusiastic. It probably didn’t hurt that she had accomplished two major feats at the gym that week and was putting a little less pressure on herself for the upcoming first meet ever.

She also found out that several of her teammates had gone to the show as well and they had liked it. A little friend endorsement certainly never hurts.

So, we went to dinner and over to the show. The lobby was overflowing with little girls in princess dresses and tiaras. Meanwhile, The Fellows is dressed very cutely in a cotton dress and leggings over her leo. We did the best we could to clean up but a sweaty pony and chalk smudges were unavoidable. She still looked beautiful to me. I think she looks the most adorable right after gym; sweaty, red, and covered with chalk. Someone asked her where her tiara was, and she just looked at her blankly and said “HUH?”.

But, then the show started. I have to say, it wasn’t my favorite of the musicals I have seen lately, but watching her loving it so much was absolutely priceless. She got a little restless during the slow numbers and romantic parts, but she thought the stepsisters were hilarious and the fairy godmother’s pyrotechnics were awesome. There was a point when the entire stage was lit up like the fourth of July. Very cool.

The one thing I thought was really great about this show was the message. The story was updates, the cast multiethnic and the moral was very good. The focus was on taking responsibility for your dreams and doing the work and then anything is possible, even if everyone else says it is totally impossible.

Here is Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother rehearsing our mutually favorite number “Impossible”.

My absolute favorite part of the evening and my most recent flabbergastedly proud mama moment was the car ride home. Here is how it went…

The Fellows: Mama, are impossible dreams really possible?

Me: Well, yes, most of the time.

The Fellows: Then I want to be a princess when I grow up.

[At this point my jaw dropped and heart sank just a little. Great, taking her to see Cinderella had turned her]

Me: Wow, so what does being a princess mean to you?

The Fellows: [Thinks for several seconds and then answers] Being responsible for yourself and really really nice.

Me: [I think I may have made some strange sound at this point] I think that is a wonderful thing to want to be honey.

God, I love that kid. She makes me so proud every day.

About a year ago, I ditched the sponge and started using dish cloths.  I bought them in bulk and then used a new one every day and threw the old one in the wash.  This has been working pretty well and I have been very happy to rid myself of stinky gross sponges.

A couple of weeks ago, we were at our amazing new local hardware store and, like usual, we were wandering around looking at all the things we would like to buy.  I swear, hardware stores are like toy stores for kids.

Anyway, I happened across the dish cloths and since they have a lifespan of about six months and mine are getting kinda grimy I took a look at what they had.  Well, I came across a very interesting product that claimed to be the perfect mix between paper town and dishtowel.   That looked interesting and so I picked up a pack.

Well, let me tell you.  These things are the bomb.  They actually are the perfect mix between dishcloth and paper towel.  They clean up like a paper towel with the re-usability of a dish towel.    They are washable in both the washing machine and the dishwasher and you can microwave it to sanitize it.  I put one through the dishwasher the other day and it came through beautifully.

We will see how long they last, but for now they get a big thumbs up from me.

Skoy Cloth – The perfect stocking stuffer!

So, a few months ago I was contacted by a representative of Smelly Washer.

Sometimes as a blogger people will contact you and want you to partner with them or review their products.  I usually don’t accept these offers, but this guy happened to hit me at the perfect time.

For months I had been complaining about how my towels smelled like mildew when I got out of the shower.  I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was causing it.  I nagged Karli about not letting the laundry sit in the washing machine and I bitched about the bathroom fan not being effective enough, but no amount of bitching and moaning or even changes in habits seemed to fix the problem.

Now, I would like to apologize to the smelly washer people for taking so long to post this review.  There were a couple of thing at play here including this last couple of months simply getting away from me.  I haven’t written much of anything and I regret taking so long to fulfill on this commitment.

I also wanted to use the product as suggested and give it time to see if it was really working or just a quick fix.

When my bottle of smelly washer arrived* I used it as directed. I ran a cleaning cycle through the washer and then added some in with my towels.  After one use, my towels smelled fresh and clean.  But would they stay that way?

Well, I am happy to say that after several months my towels continue to smell fresh, even when I leave them in the washer a little too long or forget to run the fan in the bathroom after a shower.

It recommends running a cleaning cycle through your washer once a month. I have also read some people talking about putting a little in with every load. Although I think doing a maintenance wash cycle every couple of months is probably a good idea, I haven’t experienced that putting it in with every load is necessary at all.

I would recommend giving this product a try if you have smelly towels or a smelly washer.

Recently Komo 4 (Seattle ABC affiliate) ran a story about front end washers and mold that grows that gives off a stinky odor.  I thought this was timely and so I will share it in this article along with some other useful links…

KomoNews Story: Stinky washers give consumers the ‘willies’

More Info about Smelly Washer

Purchase Smelly Washer from Amazon

*I legally have to say here that I received this bottle free of charge with the understanding that I would review the product on this blog.  I was in no way told what to say or even that I had to give it a good review.  I used this product as directed and have given my honest opinion of how it worked in my particular circumstances.  I am in no way affiliated with smelly washer and do no take any responsibility for how it may or may not work for you.

People always say not to sweat the small stuff, but sometimes it’s the small stuff that can make he biggest difference.

This summer I have been trying to do little things around the house just to make life simpler or prettier or just nicer in some way.  It’s funny what can change your life in a small yet very significant way.

calendar

I am not the most organized of people and with two kids in two different schools this year, I figured I needed to create a way to keep track of who needed to be where, what forms needed to be filled out and returned and what days I have a meeting or Karli is going to be home late etc etc etc.

With school starting last week this has really been my first introduction into the crazy schedule of a family of four.  To help me stay on track, I dedicated a wall in my kitchen to family organization.  I have two white board calendars as well as cork boards and white boards for notes and forms and stuff.  I even found a stick on post-it dispenser and some really cute orange cube push pins.

My office supply fetish is definitely satisfied on this one.  We even have a different color pen for each member of the family.

kitchen_window

Another addition to my kitchen is the hanging fruit basket.  This worked out really well, providing plenty of room for all the fruit bowl items and keeping the onions and garlic separate from the fruit.  By finding a creative solution to the overflowing fruit bowl we also cleared up some much needed counter space, which is at a premium in my tiny kitchen.

Cleaning out the garden window which had previously been filled with all my poor suffering house plants cleared enough space to start an herb garden in that window which had always been the plan and only took me 8 years to get around to.  We also gave the window sill a fresh coat of paint which really brightened it up.  It is so nice to be able to look out that window and see the kids playing in the back yard.   I don’t know if I ever thought we would get there.

pantry

Probably the biggest kitchen impact came from the addition of this giant pantry unit.  We finally got the extra shelves we needed and the drawers we forgot to buy the first time around and it is now complete and a fully functional pantry.  Having this extra space makes all the difference in a tiny house with little storage.   And I finally have all my little plastic storage containers with labels and everything.  Mmmmm, it makes me all warm inside.

house_plants

And yes, those suffering house plants (there are many more) have finally found legitimate homes throughout the house.  I look forward to watching them finally thrive and grow.  Only a few weeks later they are already looking very very happy.  They even all got matching pots in complimentary colors.

It is really amazing how much more alive and homey my house feels now.   Having the youngest to an age where he no longer feels the need to tip the plants over and dig in them is a great relief to both them and me.

towel_rack

And last, but certainly not least is the new over the door towel rack in the main bathroom.  There has never been a really good place for a towel rack in this bathroom and since I am sharing this bathroom with the kids for the time being, where to put he towels has been an ongoing struggle and trial and failure.

But here it is, my big beautiful towel rack.  Like I said, it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference.  Ahhh!

Our poor Oscar the cat has been dealing with mats for the first time this summer.   He has never had this problem before so I was surprised when several pretty large mats showed up on his back (at the tail end) seemingly out of nowhere.

It could be that he is getting old or that  Henry is no longer here to lick his back (he regularly bathed Oscar) or it could simply be because he has been laying in the dirt all summer, although that is not so unusual so who knows.

Anyway, the thought of shaving the poor guy wasn’t something I was too fond of, but he was really uncomfortable so we were looking into that.  In the meantime, I set out on a search for any other ideas out there and came across someone recommending putting baby oil on the mats and they would just fall out.

Well, I was a little skeptical and didn’t think that baby oil was such a good idea when cats lick themselves so much.  But, without much to lose I tried a little olive oil, which wouldn’t hurt him should he lick it.  With the first one, I wasn’t even really sure whether it worked because I couldn’t find it or remember exactly where it was.  So I did the largest one next and within a few days it was gone.  Hmmm.

I wasn’t sure how this was working, whether it undid the mat or made it fall off, but they were gone so I did another one.  This time we actually found the mat on the floor so it appears that they are falling off.  Strange, but a few oily days and he is mat free and a whole heck of a lot more comfortable.

So, Here it is in a nutshell..

Remove Matted Fur in Cats and Dogs

  1. In a small dish, put a tablespoon or so of Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil.
  2. Get a cotton ball or cotton swab.  It needs to be something pretty absorbent and easily squeezed.   Softness is also a key as these are very tender for your animal and being gentle is really important.
  3. Dab the cotton ball in the oil and gently dab it at the base of the mat until fully coated.  Be very gentle, but you may have to gently hold your animal in place to get this done.  You do not need to get the underside of the mat, moving the mat that much could be very painful.
  4. Wait a couple of days and check to see if it is gone.
  5. Continue to be gentle in that area as the skin where the matted fur was will still be tender for a while.
  6. Once all the matted fur is gone and your animal has had ample time to heal, give them a good brushing and don’t forget to do it regularly to try to avoid this in the future.  This last step is something I am definitely going to need to work on.

Note: If there are multiple mats you may want to treat them one or two at a time.  This is only because this is oil that you are dealing with and it can be a little messy.  By only doing a small spot at a time you may minimize the mess.  I also found that if I applied the oil right before we went to bed, I could localize most of the oil spots to the place where he sleeps at night and not all over the house.  Another tip, rub a little dish soap into the stains before washing the item with the oil spots to help loosen the oil from the fabric.

I has been very exciting watching the transformation of our backyard.

Just yesterday we completed the deck.  Done, finished.  It only took a little under a year.  No biggie.

And the lawn is coming in really nicely too.  It’s still a little thin, but starting to fill in.  Another week or so and I think it will be ready for the kids to play on.  This is just so exciting for all of us.  A real back yard, Wow!

I was just marveling yesterday how a year ago I drew a picture of how I wanted it all to look and now it actually looks just like the picture I drew.  It’s a huge sense of accomplishment, especially since we have been so paralyzed by the overwhelming task for so many years.

It’s amazing what a small boy’s never ending energy can drive you to accomplish.  Go outside and play please!  Yea!!!

Here are the latest photos…

New Grass Coming InLast bit of deck completedAnd the Last Bits of FasciaIt's Just so pretty

There really nothing more to say…

I simply could not believe it, I had to take a picture.

CIMG3951

We are very lucky with our long haired cat in that he doesn’t require the same level of grooming of other long-haired cats that I know.  His hair doesn’t mat up and he is generally pretty good at keeping himself clean, not counting the occasional burr and a not so pleasant dingleberry every now and again.

But, a couple of times a year, he starts getting really antsy and kind of snickety.  He meows really loud all the time and is generally a real grumperpants.  I’m not sure why, but I aways spend at least a week, sometimes several weeks, wondering what the hell is wrong with him.  But inevitably it is always the same thing and I usually catch on as I notice the large balls of hair he leaves behind him whenever he gets up from a lounging spot.  Ohhh, he’s shedding.  Duh!

So out comes the nifty cat brush and away we go.  This is not really an uncommon result of this lengthy grooming process.  The amount of hair that comes off this animal is out of hand. What’s funny is if I were to brush him any other time of year, this would not be the result.  A much much smaller pile to say the least.

What nifty tool do I use to accomplish such amazing results you ask?  Hee hee, I make myself giggle sometimes, what a ridiculous thing to say…

But, it is true that this particular cat brush puts the rest of them to shame.  I have seen nothing work as well on long-haired cats.  My dog has really short coarse hair so I don’t know if it would work on dogs, but I assume so.  Maybe they even make a dog version.  Let’s take a look…

It’s called a Zoom Groom and I just found out they do make them for dogs as well.

It really is a brilliant little invention and he absolutely loves it more than anything.    He rolls around on the floor and butts his head up against anything in the vicinity and I just keep going until he tells me he’s had enough.  Amazing, really.

I can not tell you how excited I am right now!

We bought this house eight years ago in August and it has been a giant project and a huge learning experience.  I think we could both honestly say that we would never have bought this house if given another chance to make that decision.  But, we have grown here as a family and slowly turned it into a pretty nice place and although it is much to small, we have grown to love it in all its quirky obnoxious glory.

One of the most overwhelming problems we have dealt with is the drainage in the back yard.  We bought the house in August, which we came later to find out is the only month of the year that the back yard is dry.  The rest of the year it takes various shapes of swamp land.  Seriously, there are parts of our back yard that in the spring you will sink past your ankles into muck that will steal your shoes and knock you on your ass.

This problem has been overwhelming us for years.  We would sit on our old rotting deck and be totally paralyzed by the sheer amount of work that would need to be done to improve the situation.  But with two small children, one a very energetic boy, it became more and more important that we do something.  

So, we buckled down and broke it into attainable pieces and started work.  Last year we built the new deck, a big undertaking at a little over 700 sq. ft.   The goal was to deck over a good portion of the muck and provide a great space for entertaining.  

We had no idea the impact it would make.   It opened up the whole back yard and made it look twice as big, even though we decked over a good portion of it.  It is two levels, all at ground level due to the slope of the yard, and the top level looks over both the large side yard and back of the house space.  It’s really amazing, I couldn’t believe how different it was and how inspired and hopeful I became that someday we might actually have a yard the kids could play in.

Deck Demolition - Yuck!Deck Framework Complete - Toward HouseCIMG2734CIMG2744CIMG2751CIMG2753CIMG2760CIMG2784CIMG2789CIMG2785

And this weekend that dream is becoming a reality.  We cleared out the whole yard and put up temporary fencing on the deck (classy huh?) and even made Pella a really fancy poop spot that he will hopefully love some much he will continue to use once the yard is done (wishful thinking, i know).

Then we hired a friend of a friend who is starting a landscaping business and he cam over with his bulldozer and a rototiller and tilled everything up and graded the whole yard, laid down drain lines across the whole area, brought in 15 yards (yes, I said 15 yards) of new soil and leveled it all out.  It is gorgeous, I just don’t even have words.

We then laid out the lines for all of our beds and the area for the play set and in came the hydroseed guy and ten minutes later we had this beautiful green painted future lawn.   Hoses and sprinklers, some weed fabric, mulch and a few plants here and there followed by a load of large bark nuggets and several weeks of waiting and I am going to have a yard.  

[flickrset id=”72157619250680932″ thumbnail=”square” overlay=”true” size=”medium”]

Have I said how excited I am.  This was definitely one of the best birthdays ever.

When I was little my mom used to make me poached eggs when I had an upset stomach.  It has become of form of comfort food for me.

The problem is that poaching eggs in water is messy and kinda smelly and a good portion of the egg white is lost to the spinning web of egg white strings (yuck).  Yet, poached eggs are still my favorite way to eat eggs and when I started The Gabriel Method and knew I was going to need to eat more eggs, making poached eggs easy was a must.

I found this nifty little gadget at the super market that makes poaching eggs a breeze.  It is basically an insert for a small frying pan.  You put an egg in one or more of the depressions and a little water in the unused ones, cover it and cook until it is cooked how you desire.  No fuss, no muss.  Brilliant!

So, now I can have my favorite comfort meal easily and regularly.  A few additions and alterations makes it a great Gabriel Method breakfast choice.

Poached Eggs On Toast

1 slice of sprouted wheat toast
1 t. organic butter
1 omega egg
1 T ground flax seed
1 T raw seeds or nuts
1 piece of fruit – organic, local and in season preferable

Toast and butter the bread, then cut it up into little squares.  

Cook the egg according to your poachers directions or your preferred method and then place the egg on top of the toast bites.  Cut it up into bites, top with flax and seeds and then mix it up so the yolk gets evenly spread throughout the toast bites.  Add a little salt and pepper and enjoy.

Make sure to include a piece of fruit, a salad or some veggies for the live portion of you meal.  The protein is found in the eggs and seeds and the omegas in the eggs, flax and sprouted bread (if your sprouted bread has flax in it).

Before you eat, take an enzyme and some omega and your all set.

Buy The Gabriel Method book now!

Having a large and healthy breakfast is a challenging  undertaking, especially if you want to be quick and not eat the same thing every day.  I have come up with several ideas, one of which is this french toast recipe.  It only takes a couple of minutes to make and provides all The Gabriel Method requirements – Protein, omega3 and live food.

Sprouted bread makes really tasty french toast.  Very satisfying and you can’t tell the whey powder is there at all. Yea!

French Toast

1 serving

1 slice of sprouted bread
1 omega egg
2 T organic milk
1 T ground flax seed
1/2 scoop unflavored whey powder
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
2 t organic butter

Wisk the egg, milk, flax, whey and nutmeg together until there are no lumps or bumps.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over just more than medium heat.

Dip the bread into the egg mixture, flipping and allowing it to soak up as much of the egg mixture as possible.

Place the bread into the pan and pour any remaining egg mixture on top, trying to keep side spillage to a minimum.

When nice and brown on one side flip and brown on the other side.  Then turn down the heat to medium low and continue to cook until the center is semi-firm to the touch.  

Place on a plate and top with a large pile of berries or another favorite fruit.  Drizzle a little pure maple syrup over the top and enjoy.

Buy The Gabriel Method book now!